• Welcome! It’s great to see you. Our forum members are people, maybe like yourself, who experience mental health difficulties or who have had them at some point in their life.

    If you'd like to talk with people who know what it's like

Can deaf people hear voices?



Well-known member
Mar 23, 2009
One man experiences a voice projected in his brain “like a ghost”. A woman hears voices “shouting through her stomach” accompanied by “black, shadowy lips”; another hears her sister’s voice talking to her at night when she is in bed “like it is coming from a transmitter or a radio”.

These three people are deaf. They, along with 50 per cent of all deaf people with schizophrenia, ‘hear’ voices. It is hard to imagine an experience more strange, unsettling and counterintuitive. Research carried out recently has begun to unpick this contradictory psychological phenomenon, and may change the way that voice hallucinations are understood in hearing people too.

Trawl back through the research on voice hallucinations in deaf people and you will find plenty of case reports and studies to support their existence. Yet there is little consensus on what they actually consist of. So while plenty of psychologists supported the idea that deaf individuals – even those deaf from birth – could actually hear the voices, one researcher was unconvinced.

Joanna Atkinson is a researcher and a clinical psychologist based at University College London. She is also deaf. The idea that deaf people could really hear the voices that they hallucinated jarred with her day-to-day clinical experience. Whenever she asked a profoundly deaf person that question, she would receive the same incredulous response: “No, of course not – I am deaf.”

Yet when these same individuals were assessed by psychiatrists who could hear, using a sign language interpreter, they would describe their experience using hearing-related terms – loud, or low, or quiet – that suggested they were in fact hearing sound. What could they be experiencing?

Joanna believed that something had been lost in translation. Through her own observations and experience of deafness, she “realised they were borrowing the language of the hearing majority and psychiatric field, rather than meaning they could hear sound”. These subtle differences in language are what make this research so challenging: for a deaf person, someone could ‘shout’ at them by signing aggressively without making any sound. The inherent difficulty of explaining complex hallucinations and sensations is therefore compounded by the need to translate between different frames of reference.

Joanna and her colleagues recruited 27 deaf volunteers, each with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and a history of voice hallucination. They presented them with a series of cards, with each card describing a possible characteristic of their voice hallucination, covering the broadest possible range of attributes – from ‘voice sounds like a whisper’ to ‘voice comes through my nose’. The participants considered each statement and sorted the cards into piles of characteristics they had and hadn’t experienced.

The researchers found a diverse range of responses that closely corresponded to each individual’s own experience of language and their level of hearing loss. First things first: “Deaf people who had never heard did not experience true auditory hallucinations,” says Joanna. For this group, communication came via the mind’s eye: visual hallucinations of moving lips, or disembodied hands and arms making sign language movements.

Can deaf people hear voices? | Mosaic


Well-known member
Aug 11, 2010
Well I was just reading a paper that the possibilities of the Auditory Hallucinations occuring and how we hear them in people with their full faculties of Hearing is through an abnormal excitation in the Auditory passages.
Now for a deaf person, the Auditory passages could be deformed and hence the sense of hearing diminished .... so if this theory that the AH are occuring because of excitations in the Auditory passages that cause us to hear them ...then the deaf may hear the AH through excitations of their Brain regions perhaps .... but just a small portion of the sufferers whose inner ear is functional perhaps ....

Cheerio !


Well-known member
Mar 13, 2015
In all mental health issues one should be aware of the caotic, dreamlike nature of the subcontious locaded in the right side of the brain. Voices are most commenly imaginations, strong and vivid coming from the subcountius. Counsellours all over the world and doctors give medication to relax people suffisient to gain sleep. It seem simple, but offcause many people loose sleep over traumatic events in their lifes. My best advice to people is to talk about it, dont sink into selp-pity, but agnolige yourself as a victim end THEN moove forward. Yours sincearly Kenneth (healthy after 20 years of severe mental illness)


Hi friendsarefriends, can I ask you if you are a voice hearer at all? And is English your first language?